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HIS 120: U.S. History to 1865, Dr. Matthew Clarcq: Websites

Evaluating Websites

How can you tell if a website is a good source of information? Use this checklist as a guide to figure out if a website is useful for your research, or if you need to continue looking at other web sources. A useful website will clearly provide much of the information in this list.


  • When was the information published or posted?
  • Has the information been revised or updated?
  • Is the information current or out-of-date for your topic?
  • Are the links functional?


  • Does the information relate to your topic or answer your question?
  • Have you looked at a variety of sources before determining this is the best  one to use?


  • Who is the author, source or publisher?
  • Is the author qualified to write on this topic?
  • Is there contact information, for example an address or email?


  • Is the information supported by evidence?
  • Can you verify any of the information in another source or by your own knowledge?
  • Are there spelling, grammatical or typographical errors?


  • What is the purpose of the information? To inform? To teach? To sell? To persuade?
  • Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional or personal biases?
  • Does the website address reveal anything about the website?

Helpful Websites

After the dot

What is the site's domain? Think of this as "decoding" the URL, or Internet address. The origination of the site can provide indications of the site's mission or purpose. The most common domains are:

  • .org :An advocacy web site, such as a not-for-profit organization.
  • .com : A business or commercial site.
  • .net:A site from a network organization or an Internet service provider.;
  • .edu :A site affiliated with a higher education institution.
  • .gov: A federal government site.
  • .uk (United Kingdom) : A site originating in another country (as indicated by the 2 letter code).
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